22 February 2015

A long journey



The cold is moving in again and we are expecting -30 degree weather for tomorrow.  That being said, I am actually looking forward to a cosy day together.  We don't have a fireplace, but we have a wall of windows on our corner unit, so the sun warms our place nicely in the winter.  (Sometimes I turn off the heat during the day because it's more than enough.)  A couple little ones are not well, so there will be some snuggling and reading - two favourite activities - and hopefully some quiet work.  And reflection.  Lots of that.



Lent is beginning, my friends.  A long journey towards the most profound and brightest Feast.   The Feast of feasts.  But first, there is the journey.  An often monotonous journey punctuated by a quiet sadness or gravity.  I love what Alexander Schmemann wrote about Lent - it captures the whole spirit:

"But then we begin to realize that this very length and monotony are needed... Little by little we begin to understand, or rather to feel that this sadness is indeed "bright", that a mysterious transformation is about to take place in us.  It is as if we were reaching a place to which the noises and the fuss of life, of the street, of all that which usually fills our days and even nights, have no access - a place where they have no power.  All that which seemed so tremendously important to us as to fill our mind, that state of anxiety which has virtually become our second nature, disappear somewhere and we begin to feel free, light and happy.  It is not the noisy and superficial happiness which comes and goes twenty times a day and is so fragile and fugitive; it is a deep happiness which comes not from a single and particular reason but from our soul having, in the words of Dostoevsky, touched "another world".  And that which it has touched is made up of light and peace and joy, of an inexpressible trust.    (Alexander Schmemann - Great Lent: Journey to Pascha)

A blessed journey to you.  


16 February 2015

Weekending



This past weekend was a long weekend and we had planned a trip to rural Quebec to visit a Greek Orthodox monastery out there.  It is a dear place to us.  I grew up near that area for a couple years, so my sisters and I spent a lot of time there as children.  Needless to say, seeing my own children playing there now is a very beautiful and profound thing.  

The huge property is nestled in the woods in a rather remote location.  In the spring and summer and fall, it is stunning and colourful and in full flower.  But in the winter time, it is quieter, practically still, with the snow covering the earth in a white blanket and muffling all sound.  With so little movement from nature, it is a place for solitude, for prayer, for contemplation.  

Of course, I forgot the camera so no hard evidence.  (That always bums me out!)  And of course the kids had an unforgettable time!  Another bummer not to have pictures to remember them by!  There was lots of time spent with dogs and cats, a few pony rides, a visit to the cows and chickens, lots of wonderful indoor conversations around the wood burning fires, hot chocolate with the sisters, visits to the their workshops, a promise of carving lessons in the future for a certain little man, and two little girls crawling all over the kitchen playing doggie.  All of this surrounded by such love and warmth and care from the sisters.  They really are our sisters.  And mothers.  The kids soaked up their attention and love.  They did not want to leave.  (I won't lie, the animals were a huge attraction too...)  They don't usually like leaving those sacred places.  Truly Panagia's garden.  

We came home today, but we are not here just yet.  Our hearts have to have some time to come back with us.  A nice fish dinner helped.  But we are tired from the trip and tired from not enough sleep.  I bid you goodnight and wish you much rest.

11 February 2015

A substitute machine and French baguettes



I haven't been crocheting like usual this little while.  It's not that I lack motivation, more like time.  Also, any time I've set aside has gone into some sewing projects.  When she heard my machine broke, one of my dear aunts lent me her sewing machine.  



This machine is just phenomenal!  So smooth, so responsive.  I don't know how I'm going to go back to my other one once I get it fixed.  :)  Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Aunt Annie!  

From our kitchen, to yours, I feel compelled to share one of the best bread recipes we've ever made!  Certainly the easiest and fastest and most convenient.  And all thanks to a posting from my friend, Yanic.  (Thank you, Yanic!)  I can't wait to try it with whole wheat or sprouted wheat flour.  Yum!

It didn't take long to make at all.  I started them around 2pm and the loaves were finished before dinner.  We had them with a hearty lasagna.  Actually, we started eating them before, technically.  The kids love home made bread when it's fresh and still warm from the oven.  It reminds me of my own childhood.  :)  It's honestly fantastic bread - you won't regret making it!  



Here are my babies being helpful.  M is doing my dishes, and J is doing her dishes.  They love water play.  Anything with water and they'll spend hours quietly finishing the task.  Love these darlings.  



This is my little man making music.  J was given a harp for her birthday and we have all been enjoying it.  J and M really genuinely love to play.  

Wishing you days filled with the sound of music!



Joining Nicole and friends for this week's Keep Calm Craft On.

8 February 2015

A Cheshire cat grin



As I write, I feel almost like stretching with languid satisfaction.  Almost.  You see, my home is clean.  Floors, my laundry, my dishes all done.  Bonus: the grocery shopping is finished and food is to be had in abundance in the form of a large potato-n-meat casserole in the oven and a big old pot of beef bones simmering on the stove for tomorrow's beef and barley soup.  Not to mention the plate of chocolate cookies and containers of chopped fruit.  :)

Why does that make me feel like a CEO who just solved a huge problem?  It always puzzles me to find out that happiness - I mean real and genuine joy - is to be found in such simple and rather unglamorous ways.  Anyhow, I figured I'd write it here for posterity actually since I so rarely have these days.



We spent a lovely weekend with some lovely friends.  I do so love having those pleasant, deep kind of conversations with a cup of tea.  :)  We also had a birthday this past week.  Little J turned four.  How time is flying.  That little one is still such a sweet baby to us.  But she is growing, that is for sure.  Her little personality is unfolding more and more.  She loves to have "conversations" (the kind where she tells mama all about something she's learned).  She can read, can zip up her own coat, do snap buttons, love to set the table for meals, loves to bake and help stir things on the stove, and is absolutely in love with animals.  And for the record, she LOVES her messenger bag.  It's just perfect for toting around the little things that four-year-olds must carry.  (Her prized notebook, a pencil crayon, Kleenex, lip balm, little model horses...)



And we had a fun week with math for M.  He is just loving math.  I can't tell you how much it just amazes me to see the wheels turning and then suddenly the light goes on.  It's absolutely amazing!  This is a photo of him working with the Montessori Addition Chart 6.  It's the blank chart that he has to fill in with the answers.  Some sums take him longer depending on if he has to figure it out, or if he's internalized the answer.  But he's pretty sharp in the end.  And he can always check his work with Chart 1 - the answer key.

Anyhow.  All in all, we had a full week.  As usual.  :)  But this one definitely more in the good books than bad.  Wishing you the same this coming week.

2 February 2015

The perfect storm



Last night's storm brought a closure of schools for our area.  And so we had a delightfully cosy day together, started off of course with crêpes for breakfast.  (It was a practically perfect day!)  Definitely one full of industrious curiosity, laughter and mattress forts.  And a dear little cousin joined us for most of the day too!  :)



They loved "working" side by side.  Such enthusiasm for practical life activities and academic advancement I have never seen!  I was bombarded by requests for "more work"!  (Imagine my delight!)  There was an artistic experience with the metal insets that blew their minds away - they sat there for a good half hour making booklets of shapes.  



And here I am. at the end of the day, tired.  Oh so tired.  And humbled.  But so completely fulfilled.  As if I had spent an entire day doing everything I wanted.  Oh wait.  I kind of did...  This is exactly what I would've wanted if I would've known how to ask.  Thank you my darlings for a delightful snow day.  







28 January 2015

It broke.



My sewing machine is broken.  What a lamentable day!  I mean, thankfully, J's bag is done.  Minus the little fairy jewel I need to sew on by hand that is.  (Such a pretty button!)  At least there's that.  But, of course, I have another two bags I'm working on too!  Which means they will have be put aside for now until I find the time to a) tinker with the machine or b) take it in for a tune up.  I'm a little nervous to think about trying a) right now.  



Haven't been working with yarn too much these days.  Trying to finish this chick hat along with the other two.  It's been in the bottom of my bag for a looooooong time.  I actually found it on our trip this past weekend and did a bit of work on it.





The kids have been busy with their own work.  Lots of making from the treasures we collected during the summer.  And lots of painting for M.  He loves the texture, the feeling of the materials sure.  But what he really loves about painting is mixing colours.  He tries several combinations, and the endpoint finds him with everything all swirled together - an irresistible impulse.  J is more about cooking and baking.  She likes to stir.  And she likes to make sweets.  Hmmm.  I wonder who she takes after.





I've mainly been busy with school work for the kids.  So much to make, organize and research.  I am trying to put together our French "program" for the summer.  It is a huge task.  And one I feel somewhat unqualified to do.  Oh well.  Isn't that the story of a parent's life?  Unqualified, but called none the less.




Yesterday some new materials I ordered came in.  I am especially in love with the stamp game.  It is so beautiful.  Really!  The little chips, the number tiles, the pegs.  All organized in their proper colours and slots.  Ah.  I can't wait to show it to M.  I know he will love working with it!  And of course, with the gathering of new materials, I am now in need of more storage space.  I need a bookshelf - preferably with drawers or doors at the bottom.  A new wish list item!  (And pretty much at the top too!)



There's something about being physically (and metaphysically) organized that speaks to me.  I need it.  I crave it.  When I see clutter, I suddenly have to clean.  It's been like that for as long as I can remember.  Whenever I had to hunker down and study for an exam in university, the first thing I did was clean my room.  Procrastination, you say?  Perhaps.  I just couldn't really focus otherwise.  Those days of studying may be over (or not), but the other part has remained.



This is not to say that my home is immaculate.  Most of the time, it is strewn around with toys, books and whatever creative projects we are all working on.  But, at the end of the day, everything has it's place.  Everything has a home.  And when it is put away, I am mollified.



Joining Nicole and friends for this week's Keep Calm Craft On, and Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.  

21 January 2015

Yarn Along: tying up loose ends

A busy week, and a busy weekend coming.  Busy with wonderful projects, family gatherings and a much-needed retreat to Michigan.  :)  



Right now I have a couple projects already halfway, so I am trying to tie up the loose ends.  I have completed J's messenger bag!  It is a sweet bag!  I will share it closer to her birthday.  I am also still working on those hats I mentioned last week.  I haven't had time for them amidst everything else, so they are still waiting for me.  I am hoping I will get at least something done on the car ride, but since it'll be dark for most of the drive, we'll see.  



I am reading a book called ScreamFree Parenting.  It is really a wonderful book.  At least, I feel more empowered to be calm with my children come what may.  One of the kids had an incident where they made a poor behavioural choice and were not happy with the consequences of that choice.  There was definitely a fit involved.  Afterwards though, you would have found us together, curled up on the floor reading a book together.  (In the end, that child's resignation and elasticity helped them get over it pretty quickly!)  But the real miracle was that throughout it all, I found myself staying calm and connected.  That was the big part.  Usually when meltdowns occur, I run for the hills emotionally!  I realize not all parents suffer from the same shortcoming, but this book is so helpful for me in learning to leave reactivity behind and embrace inner calm when dealing with my children.  

Wishing you a wonderful and calm Wednesday!



Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.